Sunday, December 22, 2013

1st Graders Explain Their Favorite Color

1st Graders have been working on explaining their opinions. I asked them to explain their favorite color. They had a choice of writing and drawing in My Story, writing in iDiary, writing and photographing in Strip Design or talking in Tellagami. Everyone chose one of the 1st 2 options.

1st and 2nd Grade Lego Building Challenge

This week's Lego challenge was for each group of 3 students to build a rectangular tower of 5-10 layers. They had to use all 19 of their Legos and no 2 Legos of the same color could touch.

1st and 2nd Graders Interview Each Other About Holidays

Following our Nearpod learning about holidays (Christmas around the world, Hanukkah, Kawanzaa, Diwali, and Ramadan) and Stick Around venn diagrams, pairs of students interviewed each other. I asked each of them to come up with 2 "thoughtful questions" to ask their partner. This is something we talk about during the year. They are basically questions that involve deeper thinking, opinion with support, or making connections. Sample questions students thought of for the holiday assignment were "What do you like best about a holiday you don't celebrate?" and "Why do you think sweets are important for many of the holidays?" Students used the video camera on the iPad to interview each other.

2nd Graders Use iDiary to Explain Their Quilt Square Choices

Each December we do a mini unit about quilts. After reading different quilt books we discuss the cultures the quilts come from and similarities and differences between the different types of quilts. After reading The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy each student created their own "quilt" using squares of wrapping paper. In the past that has been the end of that quilt project. This year, however, I asked them to write an iDiary entry about why they chose each type of wrapping paper.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stick Around App Holiday Activity

We are using Nearpod this week to learn about the way Christmas is celebrated in different countries as well as learning about Ramadan, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Kwanzaa.

After reading and discussing Christmas traditions in Mexico and Germany I asked pairs of students to create a venn diagram puzzle in Stick Around.  This was their first time creating a puzzle, although they have used Stick Around a few times to solve puzzles that I created. It was easy for me to tell based on the information students wrote/drew on the stickers how well they understood what we had read about.  They loved creating a puzzle and were all hoping to stump their classmates (no luck!) I hope we'll have time later in the week to create more puzzles as we study the other holidays.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

iPads Helped with Sub Plans

This past week I received one of those dreaded phone son had been in a bike accident on his way to school and needed to be taken to the doctor.

Luckily for me my principal came right up, but I still needed some type of sub plans for the day. Unfortunately I planned it to be a day of Nearpod, LiveSlide, videos and blog responses, and some other activities that don't translate well into quickly written sub plans. I do have (buried in the back of a closet somewhere) a stack of worksheets that I printed about 8 years ago in case of such an event. Rather than pull them out I turned instead to the iPads.

I have to say I didn't write a wonderful day's worth of lessons, but I was able to quickly put together some learning that would keep students engaged, tie to Common Core, tie to current topics, and be easy for a sub to follow.

I had 3 books related to both our family culture and nutrition units ready to use so I had the students complete a Tools4Students graphic organizer of their choice for each book. They needed to finish their final family heritage Strip Design project. We had our Hour of Code on Tuesday so I gave them the option of following up with more time on Kodable, Daisy the Dinosaur, or Hopscotch. They wrote an entry in iDiary. For math time they had a choice of Splashmath, Mathmateer, Front Row and TenMarks. It's a blur, I think there were a couple other activities in there, but that pretty well covered the day and I had a great report back on student behavior.

Over the December break I think I'll create a better day's worth of sub plans in case of emergency (still using versatile apps although with more planning), but I have to say the iPad made it easy not to run to the copier in a panic.

1st and 2nd Graders iCardSort

Last March I wrote about my 1st and 2nd grade students using some iCardSort decks I downloaded from other teachers. Over the summer I created a bunch of iCardSort decks, primarily related to ELA skills. I have been replacing worksheet practice of these skills with iCardSort decks. Topics include such things as fact or opinion, alphabetical order, spelling rules and verb tense.

iCardSort isn't a complete replacement for having students write these skills. For example, when students complete a verb tense deck they are looking at words and thinking about what rule to follow to convert the verb to an -ed ending (double the consonant, remove the e, etc.). However, they aren't actually DOING the rule. Despite that, I find iCardSort to be a quick way to follow up with an ELA mini lesson.

It's easy to create a deck on 1 device and then beam the deck to everyone.

Here are a couple samples.

2nd Graders Reflect on Being a Snowkid

I asked my 2nd graders to use an app of their choice (they all used either My Story or iDiary)  to write and draw about what they would do if they were a snowkid.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2nd Graders Teach Facts About Holidays

Every year I have parents ask to come to our classroom to teach the class about Diwali. There are generally 2-4 students in my class who celebrate this holiday, so the majority of students are not familiar with it. In the spirit of Common Core this year I had students themselves teach about a holiday that there family celebrates. The assignment had several parts.

First, students created a web about how their family celebrates a holiday of their choice (I asked them to choose either Christmas, Diwali, Kawanza, Ramadan or Hanukkah). I wanted a holiday celebrated in the fall/winter season that they could research using books from our school library. Students had the option to create the web using Popplet or paper. I asked them to think of their celebration last year or this year and include who they celebrate with, where they celebrate, why they celebrate, what they do, and what they eat.

Next, they used My Story to import a photo of themselves celebrating the holiday, with a detailed caption. I also asked them to draw a 2nd picture of the holiday using either Drawing Pad or Educreations.

Then I grouped students who had chosen the same holiday. Together they read 2 or 3 books about their holiday and had to find 4 facts. Many groups wanted to put more facts in their presentation, but because of the time we had for presentations I asked them to limit to 4--but told them they could write additional facts on paper or in a separate app project. However, I was pleased that there was so much enthusiasm and can take that into account for next year. Groups then created a presentation of their facts using an app(s) of their choice. Ahead we brainstormed that good options might be Thirty Hands, SonicPics, Strip Design, Educreations, and My Story. Of those options different groups chose Educreations, SonicPics, and Strip Design.

Christmas facts

Students enjoyed learning about other holidays and even how other families celebrate the same holidays.

1st and 2nd Grade Students Use Educreations to Balance a Meal

I gave pairs of students 6 plastic play foods. They had to take a photo of the foods. Once they brought the photo into Educreations they labelled the food and its food group. The next step was to determine what food group(s) was missing and name a food they could add to the meal from that food group.

Balance a Meal

1st Graders Label the Food Groups For Their Dinner Using My Story

We are wrapping up our nutrition unit. 1st grade students drew the foods they ate for dinner the previous night. They labelled each food with the food group.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2nd Graders Use Strip Design to Write Instructions

We talked about writing directions this week, which tied in with reading Jalepeno Bagels and directions in Daisy the Dinosaur. To bring in some math, pairs of students used Strip Design to give directions on a choice of topics. They could give directions on creating a growing pattern, naming a fraction, or using a number line to add.

2nd Grade--Healthy Snacks Using Popplet and iDiary

As part of our nutrition project based learning unit students focused on healthy snacks last week.

Each student took photos of 10-15 healthy snacks that they would be willing to have at recess. I had a large stack of pictures for them to choose from that came from the Dairy Council of California. While I could have put the photos in iPhoto or Dropbox and have students select from there, I wanted them to practice with the camera by taking their own pictures. They imported the photos into Popplet and then added a caption naming the food and its food group. Students also had the option of drawing the food rather than using a photo.

Later they chose 1 of their snacks and wrote an iDiary entry about why they liked it. They were encouraged to include details about their 5 senses as well as nutrition information, but, pressed for time (no school this week so we had a deadline), I was asking for an opinion topic sentence and 3 supporting details.

1st and 2nd Graders--Showing What We Know About Pilgrims

Last week students watched and took brief notes on the Scholastic Pilgrim/Native American videos. The videos are 15-20 minutes each and are informative while entertaining enough to hold the attention of everyone. I appreciate the points at which the narrator stops the video and summarizes a few key points. At these points I also paused the video and asked students to write 1 or 2 things they remembered--focusing either on something that surprised or particularly interested them.

In pairs students looked through the Sarah Morton and Samuel Eaton books for additional facts. Given the reading level and time constraints students didn't read the books completely.

Students then had an opportunity for various quick pair-share groupings to tell each other what they noted.  All the chores and very little space were common themes!

Finally, groups of 3 students created a Puppet Pals video using Puppet Pals HD with the Thanksgiving themed characters and background. Each student stated 3 facts and they needed to plan ahead so that no facts were repeated.

Puppet Pal Pilgrim video

1st and 2nd Graders--Counting Lego Bumps

This week one of the collaborative activities we did was to work in Lego groups. Each group had to create a structure using all 19 of their Legos with exactly 100 of the "bumps" visible from above.

After taking a photo of their creation group members interviewed each other (no samples shown because they have student faces) to explain the strategy(ies) they used to reach exactly 100. They also explained how they used Project Cornerstone skills to work together and gave their opinion about the most difficult part of the assignment.

My favorite part of the activity was watching & listening the different math strategies. Most groups eventually came up with grouping bumps into 10 groups of 10 and then covering up everything else, but other groups counted by 2s and 5s.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

1st and 2nd Grade Motion Math: Match

Last week my 1st and 2nd grade students had an opportunity to use Motion Math: Match, which I learned about at EdSurge Silicon Valley.

Initially students played in pairs with a partner of similar math ability. For this activity they created a "test" user. The reason I started them with a partner is because I wanted them to play the game without me telling them what to do. I have some students who are really savvy with the tech and others who are very hesitate to tap anything they haven't been specifically directed to touch. I took this into consideration when making the pairs as well. They worked on addition and after 3 games switched to subtraction.

The following day each student created their own user and had time to play several games. I let them choose their own level and addition or subtraction.

Comments from students--"I like that the app has matching numbers some of the time but other times I have to add or subtract to make a match." "I like that some cards disappear to give fewer choices." "I really want to get to the next level and win a goal tile that I picked. I was mad when Mrs. Auten told me I had to stop."

As a teacher I appreciate the differentiation--operation, difficulty, number of choices, and item earned. I also like the quietness of the game. Some of my students don't like wearing headphones and I appreciate that when they mute the app that there really is no sound. It's easy to use so it doesn't take a lot of time explaining to students what to do. Not only does that save time in class, it also empowers students to figure out the app for themselves.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1st grade Weather Opinion

1st grade students wrote a diary entry giving their opinion about their favorite weather. I asked for a topic sentence and 3 reasons to support their opinion.  Due to time limits they did not write a conclusion sentence.

2nd grade Ox Cart Man family responsibilities

AS with past years my students read Oxcart Man and did a season Popplet and a vocabulary dictionary just like last year (see Nov 2012 posts). This year they also completed a Popplet naming 2 different responsibilities for each member of the family. They also created a bubble for themselves and wrote 2 responsibilities they have at home. This led to a rich discussion about how responsibilities might change from long ago to present while some responsibilities remain the same.


I had an opportunity to attend EdSurge Silicon Valley on November 2. There were about 30 education companies showing their software and apps. I learned so much and heard about some fantastic companies that can really benefit the learning of my students.

A few highlights...

I was able to meet employees from Classdojo, TenMarks, and eSpark. I love all these companies and my students have benefited from their products. I really enjoyed putting a face to names. I also met someone from Motion Math and was able to try out some of their apps that we don't own. Their new play pack has a set of 5 of their fun games. I got a free code for this pack and also for Motion Math Match. I love the idea that Match offers solo and pair play as well as differentiated levels. My students tried it this week and had a great time.

I heard about Ponder for the 1st time. Alex from Ponder has helped me set-up a class for my 1st/2nd graders. We'll be trying it out next week. I like the concept of offering students a menu of word choices to help them pinpoint their thinking as they read. It will be interesting to implement this reading software along with paper reading comprehension and Actively Learn. I forsee myself using the 2 for different purposes...I'll let you know once I have a chance to try Ponder.

Speaking of Actively Learn, I met some reps from Gobstopper, a company with a product similar to Actively Learn. I've never tried Gobstopper, but I'm interested to see what books they will offer in the near future for early elementary students.

Zaption and Knowmia were 2 other highlights for me. Both involve teaching with video. Both seems easy to use, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and explore either of them.

After all this learning I am ready for Thanksgiving break and several free days to explore. In addition to the products above I also want to explore braingenie..CK12 learning for the younger grades.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

1st grade Move and Match app

First grade students used the Move and Match app twice this week. I created an activity similar to a venn diagram sort about apples and pumpkins and another activity matching map vocabulary and pictures. Creating activities in Move and Match was easy for me (scan activities students previously completed on paper and save in the stickies) and figuring out how to complete the assignment was simple for the students. They took a screenshot when they had finished so they could share their work.

1st and 2nd grade--Bedtime Math and Skitch

I introduced my class to the Bedtime Math app last week. Once a week, possibly more, students will take a screenshot of the day's math problem and import it to Skitch. They will have a choice of the "wee ones" or "little dids" problem, depending on which they feel better suits their abilities on a given day. In Skitch they will show their solution and answer.

I really like the levels offered by this app, the plethora of problems, and the real world situations they're tied to.

2nd graders--Tellagami response to 2 family heritage books

Following a read aloud of 2 books for our family heritage unit I asked students to create a Tellagami response. The 2 books were The Memory Cupboard by Charlotte Herman and How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina Friedman.

The prompts I asked students to respond to were how does The Memory Cupboard relate to our family heritage unit (heirlooms are important and their memories explained) and what are 3 comparisons made in How My Parents Learned to Eat between American and Japanese culture.


1st and 2nd graders--Lego sort

As a quick and fun activity (and to practice communication, collaboration and sorting) groups of 3 students worked together to sort Legos based on 4 properties of their choice. After each sort they took a photo with the iPad. When they were finished with their 4 sorts they imported the photos to PicCollage and created a poster with captions explaining their sort criteria.

A skill to discuss--poster appeal--can your audience read the captions?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

2nd grade--I'm Not Scared unit

In honor of Halloween 2nd grade students spent last week on a literacy unit focused on being scared.  There were 3 days of reading with day 1 focused on monster books, day 2 characters being afraid of different things and day 3 characters being afraid of different things with a very explicit part of the story about how to overcome that fear. Generally each day students read 2 books and they were leveled for reading difficulty.

In addition, students read I'm Not Scared and Mico on the iPads or iTouches.

Students completed 3 iPad activities for the unit. After the 2nd day of reading they each created a Popplet about things they were afraid of and how they thought they could overcome that particular fear. This was a lead-in to the books on day 3 when the characters really explained how they overcame their fears (day 2 books either were not very explicit or overcoming the fear wasn't part of the story).
After day 3 groups of 3 students created a PSA (public service announcement) about how to overcome a specific fear. They used PuppetPals HD to complete this task, the first time they've used the app.  They had a lot of fun with the puppets, choosing their characters and making them move around the screen. At the same time, they all spoke very clearly and produced a product that gave advice.

Finally students wrote an iDiary entry sharing the answer to 3 questions--what was your favorite part of the unit and why, what was your least favorite part of the unit and why, and what did you learn from the unit.

1st grade--An Egg is an Egg response

1st grade students read An Egg is an Egg by Nicki Weiss. Each student used the My Story app to create 2 pages of their own following the format "A _____ is a ____ until _____." Students typed the sentence and illustrated.

Unfortunately the My Story app did not correctly download/save the stories because when I go to any of the links I get a message that the epub is not available, so I can't share samples. However, they were really cute.

Some examples were "An ice cube is an ice cube until it melts" and "Denim is denim until it gets turned into jeans." Some of their examples tied in with our solids and liquids science unit as well as discussions we've had about animals.

1st grade--how to writing transferred to Educreations

My 1st grade students have done several pieces of "how to" writing since the beginning of the year including "how to... (different classroom rules)", "how to...(buddy activity with 5th grade about using playground equipment), and "how to carve a pumpkin".

Today I asked students to books at different reading difficulties that include "how to" directions. We discussed the similarities and differences in formats for writing "how to" directions. Then students wrote their own "how to" directions. I gave them 4 topic choices and asked them to each select the one that they could teach the best. They wrote their directions on paper first and then read them into the Educreations app after illustrating the different steps.

This was one of the 1st Educreations projects we've shared whole class and the big take-away message for 80% of the students is that they need to speak louder while recording.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Despite a number of challenges and set-backs, my school (grades K-3) is now using Posthaven as an ePortfolio. Posthaven is created by a couple of the creators of Posterous, which no longer exists. My school used Posterous as an ePortfolio platform last year.

Posthaven is similar, although not exactly the same, as Posterous.

Each teacher has a Posthaven account. Within that account we created a Site for each student. Whenever a student creates work on the iPad they email it it their Site. Each Site has a specific email address associated with it. Posthaven looks like a blog--each piece of work shows up in chronological order.

Posthaven can accept anything that can be emailed--links, text, photos, PDF, video, etc. This is a big advantage of Posthaven compared to some of the other options we looked at. As a teacher I can comment on student work with either a grade or text.

Parents have access to their child's Site, but otherwise the ePortfolio is private. The work in the ePortfolio can be transferred to next year's teacher so the ePortfolio will grow and "travel" with the student.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

2nd grade--Labeling parts of a Fable

The last few years my 2nd grade students read fables over 1-2 days, created a fable of their own and that was it for that genre. This year I moved the unit from April (see April 2012 and 2013 posts) to October and expanded it.

Students read fables on iPads using several Aesop Fable apps. They compared/contrasted different electronic illustrations and print illustrations.

Whole class we watched several traditional/modern fable pairs from the website  and discussed similarities and differences. Then each student chose a traditional fable and re-wrote it, setting the tale in the present time at our school but keeping the moral/lesson the same.

Another added activity was taking a picture of a print fable and noting in Skitch 3 things typically found in a fable.

1st and 2nd grade describe pumpkins or zombies

Students used the Make a Zombie and Make a Pumpkin apps this week in a descriptive activity. Half the class was using the iPads for a different assignment, so the pumpkin/zombie activity was completed on iTouches.

Students created a pumpkin or zombie of their choice using the free Parents Magazine app. They took a screenshot and imported to Doodle Buddy. Finally, they added 3 adjectives describing their picture. It would probably have been better with more screen space to write, but overall a fun Halloween activity.

As an added non-electronic activity they paired up and on the fly created a quick oral story about their pumpkin or zombie character, incorporating the description.

1st and 2nd grade--Germs Popplet

In the hopes of decreasing the spread of germs and increasing the covering of mouths and noses with elbows, we spent a couple days learning about bacteria and viruses. I brought out electron microscope photos from my days as a molecular biology and read aloud books including The Magic School Bus: Inside Ralphie, No Measles No Mumps For Me, and Germs Make Me Sick. After some hands-on activities (glitter passes around on hands, making a chain of picking up germs around the room, and "sneezing" confetti) students created a Popplet showing what they learned.

1st graders enjoy Moose Math

I received a free code for the app Moose Math. It's geared for K-1st graders and has activities tied to the Common Core math standards. There are 3 places for students to visit in the town--a juice store, a pet store and lost and found. Math skills include counting, addition, subtraction, shapes and colors. As students progress the levels get increasingly difficult. The initial levels were definitely easy for my 1st graders, but they quickly moved up to math that made them think. Their favorite seemed to be sorting/identifying shapes and colors in the lost and found.

I appreciated the ability to check-in my student's individual progress. Also, the nutritious nature of the juice shop ties in well with the nutrition/food groups unit we are just starting.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1st and 2nd grade--Almost daily uses of iDiary

For the first time since I've been a teacher my students don't have weekly keyboarding practice at school. I'm on the tech committee that helped to make that decision and I do like having an extra 1/2 hour each week of time in the classroom. One concern is that students may not pick-up typing skills as quickly, especially if they are not practicing at home, which we are encouraging them to do.

I am providing students with more times each week to use the iDiary app, giving them individual "real world" practice with keyboarding. Some days they have free choice of the topic to write about and other days I give them a specific question or topic to respond to. Some of the things I've asked them to write about is what they are learning in PE, their favorite activity in music class, what whole class reading book they've enjoyed the most and why, the book they would like me to read aloud to the class next and why, and a description of their favorite breakfast. Not only do these writings help me get to know the students better, they are also expressing themselves in opinion format most of the time (CCS) and practicing keyboarding.  After they type their sentences (minimum 2 for 1st grade and 4 for 2nd grade) they can illustrate or add stickers if they want.

No samples here--the students love the idea that these are PRIVATE (except for me)!

2nd grade--character description

2nd grade students are talking a lot this year about character descriptions. I have a section of the classroom wall devoted to describing characters in books we read. I have copied the book cover and students take turn working together to write a few sentences about character traits of the main character. Not only do they name a few character traits, they also give examples from the story that led them to infer the character trait.

This week my goal was for students to transfer the concept of character traits to our school mascot, Monte. They used Popplet to give 4 examples about Monte and explain their reasoning. The explanation part went well, but most students described feelings rather than character traits. I guess we'll continue to practice.

1st grade--Advice to Hilda Hen

In addition to the Popplet sequence activity we completed last year after reading Hilda Hen's Scary Night, this year students used the My Story app to give Hilda some advice. They each chose a point in the story where Hilda got into trouble and suggested something she could do differently to prevent the problem in the future.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1st and 2nd Graders Code with Daisy the Dinosaur

This week I had a guest, Stuart Rosenberg, visit my class to teach a 1 hour lesson about coding. He's a retired 5th/6th grade teacher from my district who does some consulting and is my #1 go-to for tech questions.

I loved the way he organized the time. First, an introduction to himself and how he and the students could communicate with each other. Then a discussion about verbal and written instructions with some actual practice, including some "bad" directions that could not be followed and a discussion about why some instructions are better than others.

Once the students really understood the importance of step-by-step instructions for moving themselves around the classroom to accomplish a given task (get a water bottle) it was time to open Daisy the Dinosaur on the iPads.

Stuart asked the students to work on the "challenge" section of the app, which gives the user challenges of increasing difficulty while teaching the different commands available. I found it really interesting how several student were stuck on the "make daisy spin 5 times" challenge because they only used the spin command once. However, when reminded of the physical activity they had done with Stuart earlier (he told them specific number of steps to take) they realized they needed to use the spin command 5 times.

Once the challenge section was finished there was about 10 minutes left for students to complete 1 of 2 challenges Stuart provided using the free play mode of the app. The challenges were similar to each other but 2 levels of difficulty.

Later in the day during free choice time many students opted to return to this app.

2nd graders finish fairy tale PBL unit

Friday 2nd graders finished their 12 day PBL fairy tale unit. We completed the entire unit (minus 3 assignments) on iPads.

The unit involved reading a lot of different fairy tales and different versions of the same fairy tales. Students also used many Tools4Students graphic organizers to respond to the books. All the work was done in pairs as we are working a lot of collaboration skills and explaining our thinking. As students completed the graphic organizers each partner had a different job--that of typist or that of questioner. The typist filled in the organizer and the questioner prompted the typist the give reasons for what they were typing.

Students read all the fairy tales, except 2 fractured fairy tales, on iPads.

There were 2 culminating projects for the unit. First, students created a map (to tie in with our social studies unit) of Fairytale Land. They had to place at least 6 fairy tale characters that we had read about on the map and be able to defend where they were placing the characters. Their map also needed to include at least 5 landforms. The landforms provided a natural way for students to separate certain characters (such as the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood). This dovetailed with the discussions we had in social studies about landforms and how they influence where/how people live and interact. Maps were created on paper because I felt that the size of the iPad screen would limit students' ability to fit everything in as they tend to write and draw large with their fingers or stylus. Students did present their maps to the class with time for Q and A.

The other culminating project was taking a fairy tale and re-writing it in a modern setting. These were really fun for me to read. Students wrote on paper. I think if we had more time we would have used Toontastic because I love that app. I just didn't have time at this point for students to learn how to use the app and be comfortable enough with it to get their fairy tale complete. Maybe this is something for next year. However, they did create their main character using Toca Fairy Tale.

Justand is working well

I have gotten rid of my clunky ELMO stand and document camera. I was happy 4 or so years ago to get it, but even back then the cart that I was given was never functional. It took up a lot of space and had very little storage and was not easy to move around. I always felt that the document camera and bolted on projector were wobbly and I can't tell you how many students disregarded/forgot directions, sat under the projector (which stuck out to the side) and then stood up and banged their head.

In its place I have an old (but very functional) rolling cart with 3 levels. The top of the cart is the perfect size for the Justand and my laptop. I have the projector and other miscellaneous supplies (pens, tape, etc) on the middle shelf and the bottom shelf holds all the supplies for the day's activities. With the previous arrangement all these other items had to go on a separate stand.

The Justand has been easy to use. I like the way the arm easily swings up or down and even students can put their iPad into the stand and take it out quickly. The iPad with the cover that we purchased doesn't fit securely, as the iPad would if we didn't have the cover or if we had chosen a thinner cover, but the stand holds it well enough that I don't fear that it will fall.

This arrangement makes it really easy to use the iPad as a document camera. I have been using the CamDraw app to annotate on top of whatever paper I am displaying for the students.

The Justand 2 looks fantastic as well, I have been using the original.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Morning Work So Much Faster on an iPad

I have transitioned all of our morning work (first 1/2 hour or so) to iPads.

When students arrive they use Socrative to let me know they're present and whether they're buying lunch or not. Next they move to an iPad activity that was formally completed on paper.

Monday--Showbie activity to review 2nd grade concepts (I'm working on transferring 1st grade material to Showbie as well)
Tuesday--math fact test and daily sentence edit
Wednesday--Socrative math and grammar questions
Thursday--math fact test and daily sentence edit
Friday--spelling test and Showbie logic/problems solving activity

After 2 weeks my students know the routine, understand the work flow, and I find they are completing the activities so much faster than when they were doing the same thing on paper. I also love the way it frees up my time to meet individually or in small groups to quickly review topics from the previous day or check in with students who were absent.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Our first week with 2:1 iPads

My students spent a lot of time this week familiarizing themselves with some apps/websites that they will access frequently throughout the year. They were so engaged this week and always ready for the next activity. The hardest part is remembering different logins. I have a "set" username and password for each student for websites/apps that allow for customized usernames and passwords. However, some sites/apps provide a username and/or password that I can't change to the "set" format. I know this is probably a great life lesson in the long run (create different usernames and passwords for each private website used), but it's a real challenge for 6 and 7 year olds. Yes, they all have small papers with their login info written down and a place to keep them, but it is so easy for those papers get lost despite best intentions...

The first is the website Biblionasium. (it works on iPads). It's free and allows students to rate books they've read and to add books to their shelf that they would like to read. It also gives students the opportunity to suggest books to each other. It's similar to the adult website Goodreads. In the past I've used Biblionasium as the reading log portion of their homework. I'm not doing that this year because I am using the paid version of Scoopad for online homework. Students complete all parts of their homework--reading log, math, ELA, and spelling--on this online site. However, students are still engaged with Biblionasium. It is helpful for me to see what they are reading and what they want to read because it helps when choosing books to add to the class library. I can also add books we are reading in class to their shelves.

My school has a Raz Kids subscription and students all had a chance this week to do some reading in class from those leveled books. We also have the leveled library apps that correspond with Raz Kids and I use those apps for pair reading.

For math we are using 2 websites/apps, both tied to the Common Core standards, Ten Marks and Front Row. Ten Marks is a website and Front Row is an app. I did not use Ten Marks last year and my students used Front Row last year just for the fraction portion of CC, because that was the only part of the math curriculum that was available. Front Row has done a huge amount of work over the summer and now has math curriculum for all the math CC standards for K-5.

Finally, my school's foundation paid for me to have the paid version of Showbie. I tried the free version of Showbie last year and really liked the concept. However, for 6 and 7 year olds it was too many steps to transfer an assignment to a different app, annotate, save it back, see comments from me and repeat the process for areas of work that needed to be completed or corrected. With Showbie Pro my students can annotate (and so can I) right in the app. Since writing on the iPad can be tricky I plan to use this in place of worksheets that don't require many sentences. Here are math and logic assignments 2nd grade students completed Thursday and yesterday.

Over the summer I attended a Buck Institute PBL training in Napa. I love the PBL format and one unit I've created for 2nd grade revolves around "What is a fairy tale?" We started that unit today. All of the fairy tales (about 15 for the 12 day unit) are read on the iPad. During the unit students will use various Tools4Students templates to respond to the reading. In addition this week they asked and answered comprehension questions in pairs using questions I created in a flashcard app. Rather than writing their answers they responded with the Tellagami app. This was their first experience with that app and I had several students tell me how much they liked it compared to writing on paper (I wasn't surprised).

Use of the Justand has been put on hold. I think I'm going to love it, but it doesn't fit on the current ELMO stand I have, so I need a new furniture configuration.

First grade students did an inference activity using Popplet. Each pair of students had a backpack with 7 items. For example, 2 mystery books, a set of Halloween stickers, a hair decoration, watercolor paint set, art project kit, and a piece of 2nd grade homework. Students grouped objects (or left them as a single object) and took pictures using the iPad camera within the Popplet app. They used the typing tool to add a caption to each Popple explaining what they could infer from that/those objects. For example, one pair took a picture of the Halloween stickers and wrote "it's fall".

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Can't Wait

Due to a lot of hard work from my co-worker Kelly, I will have 14 iPad 4s ready to use when the bell rings tomorrow morning. I am really excited to be 2:1 and to have larger storage so I don't have to move apps on and off the devices each trimester.

I have TenMarks and Raz Kids set-up and ready to go with assignments leveled for individual students. Students will use those 2 apps (as well as some others) in a rotation format a couple times a week.

Also, my principal delivered a Justand to me Friday afternoon so I will have a chance to try that out as a teaching/learning tool in place of the ELMO.

2nd grade students are going to start a new project-based learning unit tomorrow with a lot of iPad integration.

It's going to be a great week!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our 1st month

We have actually been in school for 4 weeks now! The 1st 2 weeks of school student used the iPad 2s from last year. Then they were taken back to be re-configured for lower grades. Our new iPad 4s arrived at the school at the end of the week so as soon as they are all unpacked, tagged, and configured we'll have iPads back in the classroom. I can't wait!

In the meantime I got rid of my classroom response system and I've been slowly switching all my questions from PowerPoint to Socrative software. Right now I'm focusing on attendance and a few questions each day to review math and language arts concepts. I was really hoping to find a polling software/app that could use the PowerPoint question and also grade them, but no such luck. When I tried students answering in Socrative but reading PowerPoint it was possible, but cumbersome.

Rather than sending home a Friday newsletter at the end of each week I am asking students to do the work. The last 10 minutes of each day 3 students are responsible for emailing class parents a list of 6 activities from the day.

I used Classdojo the last 2 years for personal record-keeping of student behavior. This year I have linked to parent email so parents get an immediate snapshot of their child's behavior. I also tied the wording of positive behaviors to the wording that will be on our new report card. are continuing to work well. This year I have ditched the homework sticker chart and created a badge for each week of completed homework (we do weekly packets).

I attended Mobile2013 in Tucson last week and had a fantastic 3 days of learning. With all the training and the knowledge that I'll be 2:1 with iPads this year I feel like I need to take a week off to re-vamp my lessons!

I don't have eSpark this year (boo hoo) but I highly recommend to anyone who has the funds for it. I will be using Showbie Premium for some simple writing activities--I'm thinking fill in the bubble, matching, drawing pictures of problem solving/logic questions, 1 and 2 word answers, and number talk. Once we get a chance to try it out I'll write about how the process is going. I'm excited that it will be smoother than open a doc in an annotate app, annotate, save and send, teacher open in an annotate app, comment, repeat above if changes need to be made.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

2nd Graders Finish Poetry Unit with A to Z Tongue Twisters App

As a wrap-up to our poetry unit, pairs of students read through the A to Z Tongue Twisters app. Thanks Tony Vincent for the suggestion! They were rolling on the floor (literally) as they read through the sentences.

As a follow up they came up with a list of requirements for what makes a tongue twister. Each student then wrote and performed their own tongue twister for the class.

1st 7 2nd Graders Freyer-Type Model of Character Trait Words Using Popplet

As an end to our Project Cornerstone/anti-bully school program I asked pairs or groups of 3 students to choose a word from a list we brainstormed. All the words were positive character trait words (helpful, kind, honest, upstander, etc) that were discussed as part of the program during the year. In the middle Popple students wrote the character trait word. In 4 bubbles around it they wrote a synonym, an antonym, used the word in a sentence, and drew a picture showing the word in action.

1st & 2nd Graders Kind Words About Each Other Using Popplet

Down to our last 1 hour 40 minutes with iPads I decided students should write a few words to each other, expressing the positive character traits they see in each other. Originally I was thinking students would take a picture of themselves and then their peers would write positive character trait words around the photo in Skitch. However, as I was about to launch this activity I realized we only had 3 iPads with cameras...24 students...23 comments on each photo...not going to happen in the time remaining. Great idea for next year, though!

Instead each student created a Popplet with their name in the center. Peers stopped at each Popplet (9 iPads so each iPad had 2 or 3 Popplets to comment on) and added a Popple. They wrote a positive character trait word or a phrase about something their peer likes or is known for. Again, I think more planning and brainstorming of character trait words would have yielded more variety in the Popples (also less enthusiasm for the showing of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs that was about to happen), but hopefully it is a nice keepsake from the year.

Father's Day StoryBuddy by 2nd Graders

2nd grade students completed a 3 page StoryBuddy or 3 box Strip Design about their dads as a Father's Day gift. We had to turn in iPads, so we had to get this project completed ahead of time. On each page they drew a picture and completed a sentence stem. The sentence stems were "My dad is great at..." "My dad is special because..." and "I like to _____ with my dad."

1st & 2nd Graders Reflect on Our Environment Unit

We spent a week learning about taking care of the environment--water and energy conservation, reduce, reuse, recycle, etc. At the end of the unit pairs of students showed what they learned about 1 topic that they felt was most important.  Popular apps for demonstrating learning were Educreations, StoryBuddy (see sample), DrawingPad and StripDesign, 30 Hands, Sonic Pics, and Skitch.

Friday, June 7, 2013

1st Grade Heavier/Lighter with StoryBuddy

First grade students are learning about objects that are heavier/lighter than each other. After weighing various classroom objects using balance scales, they showed me their understanding on the iPad. Using StoryBuddy they drew a picture and then wrote a sentence explaining which object is heavier and how they knew.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2nd Graders Review Their Favorite Apps

Only 2 more days with iPads, I'm not sure how will we survive the other !  Each student chose their favorite app on the classroom iPads, took a screenshot of if being used, and gave an audio review. The review followed our Step Up to Writing expository format--topic, 3 yellow detail sentences, 3 red explain more sentences, and  a conclusion.

The videos turned out to be rather long, and I'm not sure I'm going to successfully get them off the iPads before the end of the year. However, here's a list of those that students chose to highlight (there were some duplicates).

Nancy Drew's Shadow Ranch
Daisy the Dinosaur
Green Up
Pocket Zoo

2nd Grade Mystery Disguises

The reading theme this week was mysteries. After reading several mysteries and doing some paper and pencil activities, students took a photo of themselves with the iPad camera. Using either Doodle Buddy or Stitch they created a disguise for themselves--hats, hair, mustaches, silly clothes, etc.

No samples shown due to privacy issues.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

1st & 2nd Graders Code with Daisy the Dragon and Hopscotch

On Friday I gave students some "free" time with either Daisy the Dragon or Hopscotch. In pairs or threes they had 20 min to explore one or both apps. I stressed ahead of time that I wasn't going to teach them a lesson or tell them what to do--it was all on them to figure out whatever they could figure out. There was no final product, no test, if they wanted to sit and stare at the screen for 20 min that was fine with me. Of course none of did that, but there were 3 groups that came up and complained they "didn't get it"/"couldn't figure out what do to". I sent them back to problem solve. Guess what, when that 20 min was up every group had accomplished something and they were all laughing--the best sound ever!

We have only 4 days left to enjoy our iPads! Hopefully we'll have some more time for coding.

2nd Graders Use Actively Learn to Read My Father's Dragon

To go with our "scary" unit, 2nd graders read My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Rather than read paper books, I asked Actively Learn to set up the book in their interface. I linked some background information, added some notes about different thinking I had as I read, and posed 11 free response questions.

Students read in pairs on iPads. Their response to reading in Actively Learn (their first experience) was that they liked it. Their favorite part was seeing responses from their classmates.

I will definitely use this program more next year, probably with PDFs since there are not many Project Gutenberg books at a 2nd grade reading level that I think will also hold student interest. It was easy to use, easy to see feedback, and ore interactive than the same assignment on paper.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

2nd Graders Relate to Being Scared

This week 2nd graders read several different books about being scared. These included Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express, Thunder Cake, Creepy Crawlies, and several monster books. In addition to paper activities, each student created a Popplet showing what they were scared of. This seemed like a great way for them to relate themselves to the unit topic. Given the things we had read and talked about, I was expecting answers more like swimming, the dark, monsters... what I got from a lot of students was a bit more dark. Maybe they are watching too much adult TV! In any case, their Popplets did lead to some further discussions I hadn't expected.

1st Grade Shape Attributes in Drawing Pad

As we finish out the school year one of our last first grade math topics is shapes. After shape hunting around the school, counting faces and corners, and manipulating blocks, I asked students to choose their favorite shape and describe it to me. They needed to tell me the name of the shape, how many faces it had, the shape of the faces, and whether it could slide, stack and roll. I asked them to use Drawing Pad to complete the task.

1st and 2nd Grade Popplet Review of the Year

Pairs of students created a Popplet of activities they remembered from our year together. After about 20 min of adding to their web, they did a "gallery walk" to look at the webs created by their classmates. Then they had 5 more min to add additional ideas to their own web. I always like looking back on all we've accomplished, and it always intrigues me to see what students recall the most.

1st and 2nd Grade Create an "Eat Healthy" TV Commercial

Our class studied nutrition in depth back in the fall. We cycled back to the topic last week because it tied in with some other learning. After reviewing ways to stay healthy, pairs or groups of 3 students created a TV commercial (all used Educreations by choice, although I left the app choice open) promoting the topic. I required that their TV commercial be 30-45 seconds or less.

1st and 2nd Grade Synthesize Facts and Create an Educreation Video

My first and second grade students read a Scholastic Who Would Win book (grizzly bear v. polar bear, lion v. tiger, or killer whale v. shark) with a partner. They used the categories listed at the end of the book to compare the 2 animals. Using Educreations (or any other app of their choice, although all 12 groups chose Educreations) they explained which animal would "win" in each category. Then they put all the information together and predicted in a fight which animal would win. Next year I need to be more specific with my directions. I had wanted more explanation than I got. For example, "polar bears would win in size over grizzly bears because they are about 400 pounds heavier" rather than just "polar bears are bigger than grizzly bears".

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

1st and 2nd Grade Haikus Using Haiku Deck

After reading several books of haiku and listing the rules that haiku poems follow, students wrote their own using Haiku Deck. First grade students wrote a poem about either weather, frogs, or toads while second grade students wrote about insects (recent science topics).

First Grade Sample

Second Grade Sample

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2nd Grade Rainforest Presentation with Haiku Deck

Last year (see May 22, 2012 post) students used Drawing Pad and Strip Designer to create a "poster" of facts they had learned about the rainforest at the end of that unit. This year they used Haiku Deck to create a slide presentation which they presented to the class.

1st and 2nd Grade Comics Using Drawing Pad and Strip Designer

Last week we completed a unit about comic books. Students LOVED the chance to read comics in school. I had a wide variety of reading levels, series, and topics for students to choose from. We used Tools4Students to compare comic books to picture books as well as to list features they noticed for all the comic books.

Students then created their own comic, mapping it out on paper first. Due to time, I asked 1st grade students to create a comic with 2-4 boxes and 2nd grade students to create a comic with 4-6 boxes. I wanted to be sure they would have time to complete a finished comic within the week as we had open house and a staff day (on the iPad each student had 40 min). Then next week we move on to other topics! However, I have had students email me sequels to their comics that they created on ipads at home. It's always great when students want the learning/experience to continue.

2nd Grade Analogies

Last year students completed this assignment using Drawing Pad and Strip Designer (see May 22, 2012) post. This year I gave them a choice of using those 2 apps, or using Story Buddy. Here's a sample from Story Buddy (2 pages).

1st and 2nd Grade Thank You Letters Using Card Shop

As our year draws to a close, 1st and 2nd grade students each wrote a thank you to one of the adults at the school who do so much for them (librarian, custodian, office staff, etc.)

Last year we did this activity with Kid Card. It's a free app and had cute stickers and paper options and was easy to use...except that there were banner ads that always appeared over the toolbar, making it impossible to get to the tool bar!

This year my school bought Card Shop. The app still has an assortment of paper colors, pictures and stickers that students like. However, there seem to be some glitches that cause text boxes to disappear if the iPad is touched in just the wrong way. Also, the text boxes could not be edited. We used this app in December without these problems, so hopefully they will be fixed.

Once the cards were complete, it was easy to forward to the recipients. Since they are ecards and no physical address was necessary, students included a picture of themselves in the bottom section of the card (not shown).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

1st Grade Frog and Toad Are Friends Favorite Moment with Story Buddy or Drawing Pad/Strip Designer

First grade students continued their Arnold Lobel author study by reading Frog and Toad are Friends. Each student drew their favorite scene in Story Buddy or Drawing Pad and then added labels (a text feature we have been talking about) and an explanation of why they liked that chapter.

Students also took a picture of themselves in Puppet Pals, cut themselves out, and added themselves to the scene (not shown for privacy reasons).

2nd Grade Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with Story Buddy or DrawingPad/Strip Designer

After reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judy Barrett and Ronald Barrett students imagined themselves in Chewandswallow. They used Story Buddy or Drawing Pad and Strip Designer to create an image of it raining their favorite food(s). They added text to explain their picture.

Students then used Puppet Pals to photograph themselves and Pic Collage to put themselves in front of their scene (not shown for privacy reasons).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

1st and 2nd Puzzle Pop HD

Duck Duck Moose gave me a free redeem code for my class to try Puzzle Pop HD. Teachers at my school use some of their other apps and enjoy them.

Puzzle Pop is more of a "fun" app than a grammar or math app. However, there's lots of learning going on in the form of problem solving and thinking. My students played the app in pairs, so they also had to communicate with each other as they worked to solve the puzzles.

There are 27 puzzles in the app and they get increasingly more difficult. My students played for about 15 minutes total and collectively reached level 15-18. I only played the first level myself so after they played I asked them to explain to me what they had to do, what they liked, what was easy and what was challenging. It was a great conversation and I encouraged them to start their comments with "I agree with..."  or "I also thought..." or "I didn't think...", something I have been working on with them. The comments were positive and they all want to play again, so I'm sure I'll be buying some copies soon!

Students both liked and were frustrated by some of the interactive features that appear as the levels get more difficult. For example, the characters move from 1 puzzle piece to another as students re-arrange them. Also, the screen goes dark at some points so all the player can see is the eyes of the characters in the puzzle. Since I haven't played myself (I did peek over shoulders) I can't comment directly, but these extra goodies sound like fantastic and creative ways to add challenge to a puzzle beyond just adding more pieces.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

1st Grade Solids and Liquids Educreations

First grade students are also finishing their science unit (solids and liquids). They independently created an Educreations about solids and another one about liquids. The goal was to name some properties that made the 2 different.

2nd Grade Show What You Know Balance, Spin, Rotate, Vibrate

As the year winds down we finished our balance and motion science unit. Groups of 2-3 students used any app of their choice to review the main concepts of balance, spin, rotate and vibrate (our sub units). Educreations, Haiku Deck, Sonic Pics, 30 hands, Story Buddy, Popplet and Strip Designer were popular choices.

Here are a couple samples.

2nd Grade Buy My Invention Strip Designer & DrawingPad

We are working on persuasion. Students created an invention (lots of invisible pills & powders and do your homework machines) and determined their target audience. Then they created a magazine ad (Drawing Pad and Strip Designer) that would give viewers specific reasons to buy the product.

The theme for our teacher appreciation week this year was Superheroes. My students were asked by the PTO to create a super hero name, logo and gadget for me. Many of them did this at home on paper and in class I gave them time as well to create an ad for my super hero persona.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

2nd Grade Life Cycle Narratives

This past week 2nd grade students listened to a read aloud of both The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle and Seahorse Reef by Sally M. Walker and Steven James Petruccio. We discussed how these books were both stories, but contained factual information.

Groups of 2-3 students chose a specific plant or animal or their choice (but not a sunflower or a seahorse) and they storyboarded their own life cycle narrative. This was challenging for some of the groups--they wanted to write the steps in the life cycle and be done with it. We had to go back to the 2 books above and talk about how they would have been different if they had been just a series of steps in the life cycle.

Once the storyboard was complete the groups chose an app to create their story. Most used Educreations, but others chose StoryBuddy, Scribble Press, Strip Design/Drawing Pad, and Sonic Pics/Drawing Pad.